As a practitioner of Chinese medicine I always strive to educate my patients however I can. Education is one of the most empowering things you can do on your health journey. It’s all very well to get advice on what to eat and how to live, but when you can actually understand the why behind it all – that’s when things really fall into place and you too become passionate about taking back the drivers seat in your health and wellbeing.
The main area I see where my female patients are lacking in knowledge and understanding is around our menstrual cycles! Now this really should be basic stuff, but unfortunately we don’t learn this in school or if we don’t have anyone sit down and teach us – then it simply doesn’t happen.
When a woman truly understands her menstrual cycle, life just becomes easier. You know what your own personal rhythm is, you know how to read your body, which leads to a greater understanding and connection to yourself.
Understanding your menstrual cycle also helps you understand when you are fertile and when you are not fertile. Once you learn to read your bodies cues, you don’t forget. This is such powerful knowledge that you can use for the whole of your reproductive years whether you are trying to fall pregnant or avoid it.
Here are some common facts on our menstrual cycle:
• A healthy menstrual cycle is around 28 days long. However, this can vary by a few days and still be perfectly healthy and problem free.
• A menstrual cycle shorter then 25 days and longer then 35 days is considered irregular. This would indicate that there is a hormonal imbalance that needs to be addressed.
• The first day of full bleeding (not spotting) is counted as Day 1 of your cycle.
• A healthy menstrual bleed will last 3-7 days. Again, anything longer or shorter then this may be indicative of a deficiency or hormonal imbalance
• Our periods should be pain and stress free! We were not designed to suffer. Any sign or symptom that accompanies the period like abdominal pain, back pain, acne, headaches, bloating, nausea and mood changes are the bodies way of telling us that there is a deeper imbalance going on expressing as a symptom. A healthy period should come and go with ease.
• Clotting in the menstrual blood is an important sign to take notice of each month. This can indicate elevated levels of estrogen in the body.
• Although it is flattering to think of ourselves as fertile goddesses that can fall pregnant at anytime, this is not entirely accurate. When we are young and developing we are commonly scared into thinking that we can fall pregnant at the drop of a hat and are typically put on the oral contraceptive pill to prevent pregnancy. However, when we understand our cycles, we know that our fertile window is actually quite small, only 3-5 days per month. So why are we taking hormonal medication to stop us from falling pregnant for the entire month at times when conception wouldn’t be possible? Is this the only answer? Not necessarily. It can create a huge disconnect from our bodies, our fertility is completely shut down on the oral contraceptive pill instead of spending the time to understand it and then work with it. Fun fact: Natural Fertility Awareness as a form of contraception (when practiced properly) is statistically more effective then the oral contraceptive pill at preventing pregnancy. Sounds like there is more to the story here. More on this in coming posts.
• Our cervical fluid changes throughout the month. The fluid that you can feel or you see on your undies or when wiping is actually really important information that tells us a lot about our bodies. It can help us tell whether we are in our fertile or non-fertile phase in our cycles.
So there you have it, this is just the beginning of the journey of understanding your body and your menstrual cycle. There is so much more to learn and discover however this is a good place to start from. See if you start noticing some changes in your body throughout the month now. Is your period clotty or free flowing? Do you notice changes in your cervical fluid? Get curious about what your body is trying to tell you.
Now I’d like to hear from you. Was there anything listed above that you didn’t already know? Were you one of the lucky ones that was sat down and taught how to understand your body? Do you have some questions about your reproductive health you want answers to? Leave your questions and comments below!
Lauren Curtain is a qualified Chinese Medicine practitioner, with a strong passion for all things Chinese Medicine, fertility and women’s health. She has been with Angea for over 2 years now, and her treatment style is known for patient empowerment and education. She creates a warm, loving and judgement free environment, and also provides realistic guidance both in diet and lifestyle. Her treatment techniques include a combination of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, cupping, gua sha, moxibustion, Tui Na (Chinese Remedial Massage) and other TCM principles. Contact us on 9510 3700 to book an appointment with her.